Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Rubbish – rising to the challenge

Litter, rubbish, trash, garbage — call it what you will, it’s a serious problem in our affluent society and a daunting challenge to our efforts to create a sustainable way of living, in Hastings as elsewhere. Reporter NICK TERDRE culled the views of one concerned citizen.

Litter is a constant preoccupation for many, not least Judy Russell, a Castle Ward resident. “Litter is an ongoing problem in Hastings, particularly around collection days,” she says.

“The council do an amazing job, they always respond very quickly when someone rings up to report that there is litter in their street.

“But unfortunately people in Hastings are just very dirty when it comes to litter. It’s never-ending, people just discard their litter wherever they are.”

She blames in particular the transient population to be found in the town centre, with its many multi-occupancy properties and absent landlords.

Admittedly finding the right solutions is not easy. Many towns have improved garbage-gathering by distributing wheelie-bins to residents. Such a solution has been ruled out in large parts of Hastings as the bins would obstruct narrow pavements.

Hostile reaction

The council has also considered communal bins in the town centre but the proposal met with much hostility — to some they look unsightly, to others they occupy valuable car-parking space at the side of the road.

“When the council tried to bring in communal bins, there was a huge outcry,” says Judy. “I don’t like the idea of communal bins myself but for some areas there is probably no alternative.”

Smaller bins for communal use have also been placed in some locations. They seem to attract rubbish, which is fine if they’re cleared as soon as they’re filled up, but not if a mound of bags grows around them, creating an eyesore and attracting the attention of seagulls and foxes.

Much of what we throw away is unnecessary waste. As Judy points out, “Packaging doesn’t help, everything is so over-packaged. If only the supermarkets would stop packaginging everything — you even have to buy an avocado pear packed.”

And a lot of the packaging consists of virtually indestructible materials. The rigid plastic and polystyrene which come with our latest acquisitions will no doubt outlive us all.

Missed opportunities

Nowadays we recycle, but it’s clear we could do a better job of it. “If you look at the bags on the pavement that have been torn open, half of it could easily be recycled,” says Judy. “There’s a lot of glass, paper, tins and so on. And of course people waste so much food, as well.”

She acknowledges that there are small steps being taken in the right direction, such as people reusing plastic supermarket carrier bags instead of taking new ones every time they shop. Some supermarkets also encourage their customers to do the same.

The comments could be multiplied, but the message is clear. Litter is not someone else’s problem, it affects all of us, as an eyesore, as a health problem, as a potential waste of valuable resources.

How can we tackle this challenge? Do you have any bright ideas how we can improve the collection and disposal of rubbish?

Can the council improve its act? Can individuals improve their act? Do you know of ‘best practice’ in other towns that it would pay us to adopt here?

Contact us at if you have a contribution to make to this debate. Or call Nick Terdre on 01424 713 861.

Posted 21:05 Friday, Apr 23, 2010 In: Home Ground

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